Tuesday, November 28, 2017

They Arrived Uninvited

Rossini wrote an opera entitled The Thieving Magpie, named after that bird’s kleptic propensities. I think the subject of the opera lives near me. Every couple of days, since I began leaving food out for the community cats, the food-bowl has been emptied. I thought that I had some very hungry animals in my neighbourhood. I do, but they aren’t mammals.

The solution is simple, of course. I will put the food-bowl out in the evening, when the magpies are sleeping off their reiving, and the cats are prowling. The only time I have seen cats actually eating the nutrition I’ve offered has been at night, so they know it’s there at that time. I will bring in the food each morning.

But I think I may scatter some kernels for the magpies, regardless. Though they are rather aggressive toward other birds, even driving them out of districts by eating their eggs, they do provide a bit of entertainment for my beasts, and I believe in paying performers for their work. But I won’t give them too much. They’ll just end up stealing what they want, anyway.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Harsh Punishment

During the weekend, I accidentally stepped on Parker’s tail. I am pretty good at avoiding such mishaps. I think I have done it only a couple of times in the last ten years. I recall putting my foot on Tungsten’s tail early in our acquaintance. It was in the dark and she shrieked. Needless to write, the effect on me was dynamic. She was, of course, more surprised and outraged than hurt.

Parker did not scream or cry. He stood up from where he was lying on the floor, trotted into the library and hid behind the bookcases. I’d not before heard of that reaction in a cat. It took me only a minute to coax the sturdy-boy out from his hiding spot, and he accepted my apology without hesitation. But I felt worse than if he had screamed in pain and indignity. Simply taking himself off to be alone was a harsh punishment for me.

But all is well, and we remain friends. He just asks that I watch my feet in the future. Stepping on tails twice in a decade is, I’m sure he believes, rather too much.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Guests for Dinner

They were actually a bit behind the time for dinner, so it’s more of a late supper for these two. They came to the food bowl about eight-thirty. I had left the outside light on for my cats, as they seemed to like viewing with some illumination. I usually do not leave the light on, and won’t often in the future. But it allowed me to see this pair.

I thought some owned cats may have been coming by during the day to sample the food I’ve left out, as all of what I offered yesterday had disappeared by the time I returned from work. But we have some community cats in the neighbourhood who don’t seem to have homes. I think these two may be included in that category. I have no proof, but they had a combination of confidence and caution that suggested ferals who know their way around the outdoors.

Are they siblings? Mother and daughter? They are either mostly black or dark grey. The slightly larger one ate first; in fact, the other didn’t eat at all, though I suspect they returned when they had less of an audience, or when the audience had less of a chance to see them. You can observe Tucker’s reflection in the glass of the window, though in fact he could not view them from where he was sitting on a cat-tree; the angle was wrong. Parker could, and was much interested in the intruder-cats, but I explained to him that they were not intruders. They were our guests.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Bottomless Pit

When Tungsten came to live with me ten years ago, I had little idea just how far down the bottomless pit of cat-care I would fall. Not only have I adopted five cats in the past decade, but I have fostered or otherwise sheltered nine others for varying amounts of time. I have joined a rescue-group and spend most of my time and revenue caring for cats. It’s true that I have not done a great deal compared to many, but neither did I expect to be doing this much.

And now, I am taking care of cats I don’t even know. I am not inviting them in to my home for the Saturday night movie, but I began leaving water out for them in the summer. Then, come the cold weather, I bought a heated water-bowl for their sustenance. And now, my latest descent, is food. I have purchased some hard food for them. I haven’t seen any cat eat it, no more than I have seen a cat drink from the heated water-bowl. But the amount of food has diminished each morning. The food isn’t the best that money can buy, but it’s better than average and, I think, better than they could find on their own.

I don’t think raccoons or skunks are at it. I am told that they leave a bit of a mess behind and, except for the odd fleck of dirt in the water, and a pebble in the food, none of it has been spoiled in that manner. And I have seen cats near the refreshments, even if I have not seen them partaking of it.

To be honest, it is a small thing to do. But small acts by one can mean much to another, and I hope that this will be one of those acts for the community cats. And, as I had a spare bowl, I thought I may as well toss that too down the bottomless pit. It’ll keep all my spare time and money down there company.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Steady as She Goes

Every pilot needs an aeroplane, and every aeroplane needs a rudder in its tail. It’s only the cleverest flyers, however, who provide their own rudders - and only the cleverest of the cleverest whose rudders are their tails.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Why It Took Me Four Hours to Make the Bed

I make my bed every day, of course, but when the sheets need changing, or when the other bedclothes require washing, it is stripped. The comforter, the cover of which is also sometimes washed, is set aside. That’s when a cat usually finds it. This time, it was Cammie. She didn’t rouse herself from her nap - or at least from her perfect situation - for four hours. That’s all right; I had other things to do.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Our New Water-bowl: the Sequel

After leaving the new, heated water-dish outside for a couple of days and nights, I came home yesterday after work to see tracks in the snow. I think they were headed toward the bowl, though I didn’t see any leading away.

It looks as if the creature - I will assume it was a cat - walked along the parapet of the concrete ditch to reach the water. Now, it seems, at least one animal knows that a source of fresh water is available in the cold. Hopefully, it will become a bit of a watering hole. This will have the added advantage of entertaining my beasts - and driving them crazy (which I figure is only fair.)

Monday, November 6, 2017

How a Princess Dines

Cammie loves her heated cat-bed. Like Tungsten before her, she spends a great deal of time in it, though, unlike the orange one, my princess is not weak and thin. She lolls in the luxurious warmth simply because she likes it.

Cammie will spend so much time in the heated cat-bed that she will forego her soft-food meals in order to stay lying in comfort. As she is on the frontiers of kidney failure, I try to have her eat as much soft-food as possible. Certainly, she drinks a good amount of water, but I encourage the consumption of soft-food nonetheless. Sometimes, I will be able to coax (ie. force) her out of the bed for the few minutes that she will consent to dine. This time, I could not.

So ensconced in her curled comfort was she that she declined to be evicted. Instead, I had to place the dish on her legs. The princess then moved her head and mouth enough to eat the food. When she had eaten as much as she could reach, she stopped. I had to turn the dish around, so that she would finish the remains of the portion that had been pushed to the far side. After that, she lie down again, steadfastly refusing to move for a second helping. She would not even raise her head.

Cammie is not ill. She does step out of her royal bed to climb the tall cat-tree when she has a mind to look out at the wide world. And she plays swat-the-stick pretty actively. And of course she rockets about the apartment  - like her tiny orange predecessor - after a visit to the litter-boxes. She simply has no desire on a cold autumn’s night to abandon a perfectly warm bed, even if the apartment is toasty enough for a furless human not to feel the outside chill. And when she has no desire to do something, she doesn’t do it. Cammie is, after all, a cat, and my princess at that.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

When Water Doesn't Freeze

The cosy apartment has become much cosier over the last week with a blizzard that dropped several inches of snow on southern Alberta and reduced temperatures to double digits below zero (Celsius). There are a number of stray cats in my neighbourhood, and several others who have homes but who are allowed outside. For these, I have been placing a bowl of water on the patio (concrete ditch) outside my apartment for some months. Now, that water freezes every night.

I bought a heated water-bowl this weekend. It’s actually a dog’s dish, but I have placed it outside for the benefit of the neighbourhood’s cats; I hope they don’t disdain it because it was originally meant for canine drinkers. I ran into a problem immediately, as our apartments do not have outside electrical outlets. As strange as it is, there is no way to have barbeques, radios or other appliances outside during the warm months, unless an extension cord is used to connect them to a power-supply inside. And in the cold months, even that solution cannot be used, as it is far too cold to leave doors open, even by a slender amount, for the passage of a cord.

However, conversing with a fellow tenant, who has a similar water-bowl put out for similar purposes (though on another side of the building), I learned of a means around this problem. I followed his example and purchased a light-bulb socket with integral outlets, and plugged my new bowl’s cord into that. I must remember to leave the outside light switched on at all times, but simply loosen the bulb enough so that it does not shine continuously.

Furthermore, I can place the bowl on the parapet of my ditch, thus obviating the need for an extension cord to the socket. This morning, after a night of water being left in the bowl, I noted that the water had not frozen. It was cold, but definitely liquid. There were no paw-prints in the snow around the bowl, however.

To be honest, I don’t know if any cat ever took advantage of the refreshment I made available. But several times at night, I noted my beasts staring into the darkness, at the spot where I had left the bowl. They were staring in the way cats do at other cats, intruder-cats, so I think some thirsty animals have visited the bowl in the past. If they choose to do so in the winter, they will find it filled and ready for them.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Gift that Keeps Giving

In several ways, Cammie is my most interesting cat. Most prominently, her means of showing affection, at least toward me, are evolving processes.

She has for some time, liked to lie on my chest and purr; she does this especially at about eight o’clock on Sundays, or Saturdays, if I sleep to that hour. When I am lying on my stomach or side, she will push her head against my cheek, to let me know she is present, and would like me to roll over on to my back. She is also more ready to jump on to my lap when I am sitting, and knead my midriff.

But the latest advance took me by surprise. Cammie has never been fond of being picked up and held, but I do so now and then, just to keep her accustomed to it. This past week, she has started to purr when I hold her. This is new, and it has occurred twice, so I know the first time was no accident.

One of my readers, Kari, has stated more than once that Cammie will surprise me as time goes on. A member of the rescue-group with which I volunteer said that Cammie keeps giving me gifts. This cat and I did not really appreciate each other when she first came to live with me. It took much patience from both of us to arrive at the point at which we now stand. But it has been and continues to be worth it. I would urge everyone who has a mind to adopt a cat to look at the shy ones, the mistrustful ones. They will come around, though probably not in the way you expect. They will give you the gift of trust and love. Like my princess, they are gifts that keep giving.